Trump the Firebug in China Phase 1

448276456_82de10ff01_z

A year and a half ago I had a piece about Trump’s firebug behavior, where he whips up a crisis which he then resolves by dialing down what he did himself.   Such behavior is not only deceptive, but frequently also damaging—stopping the fire doesn’t necessary bring everything back to zero.  North Korea was the prime example in that earlier piece.  In that case, after we turned down the fire we had legitimized the regime, encouraged nuclear proliferation, and basically stopped caring about the dangers they represent.  It remains shockingly easy to get the press to fall for these firebug scenarios.

At the time I worried that the same was going to happen with China:  “there should be no problem getting the kind of PR-oriented agreement we got from Kim.  Market access can be as murky as denuclearization.”

It took longer than I expected (he didn’t do it for the midterms, he did it for the presidential election), but that’s what we’ve got.  The Phase 1 Agreement dials down Trump’s own trade war with a declaration of victory that lets everyone celebrate the peace.  In exchange for Trump’s toning down the trade war, the agreement combines one-shot purchases that China needs anyway (for its pork epidemic) with a number unenforced statements of principle (think denuclearization).  There is no substantive progress on any of the issues that started the trade war.

We’ve been sold another firebug triumph—and in this case the damage is serious.  The trade war delivered nothing and fractured the world in the process.  This is a failure of policy with real consequences.  It is horrifying that the press coverage can’t get beyond speculation about what might be good or bad in the vacuous agreement itself.  China is too important for this.

To end I’m including a comment I wrote to David Leonhardt’s article in this morning’s NY Times: “What Americans Don’t Understand About China’s Power”.  Leonhardt’s article was good, but needed to go further.  This is a quick view of where I think we are.

 

This is a good piece, but it understates the problems with our China policy.

We have issues with China, but a unilateral trade war is not going to resolve any of them. Our recent phase one agreement is a case in point—like our agreement with the North Koreans it does little more than tone down the belligerence we created:  stuff they were going to buy anyway and unenforceable statements of principle.

The trade war itself, however, has lasting consequences. Trump’s threats to destroy the Chinese economy legitimized Chinese hardliners’ position that the West was still colonialist and not to be trusted. Complete independence and self sufficiency were imperative.  Intellectual property theft went way up.

Our current Chinese policy is nothing more than unproductive grandstanding.  It is not “finally getting tough with the cheats”. Obama actually reduced intellectual property theft and the balance of payments deficit, rather than the opposite. Same for Chinese behavior on climate change.

If we actually want to make progress, it needs to be together with our allies (to double leverage) and in the context of international rules of fair trade—rather than what we think we can shove down their throats to maintain our dominance.

The trade war does not resolve issues, does lead to a fracturing of the world (with reduced security, prosperity, and US influence), and—as Leonhardt says—distracts us from the things we really need to do.

Irrelevance

2405334516_8e05bd7dcb_b

“P1040738” by frederique.baggio is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I find I can’t watch British TV series anymore without a post-Brexit shudder.

Those programs are no longer studies in quirkiness from a historically-great country that is almost us.  That country is gone.   It can’t even keep its own pieces together.  The solid core of the country has evaporated.  All that’s left are the quirks, and many of those are rather sordid.

Britain is a land possessed by dreams of lost empire, unwilling to accept either the now-visible reality of that imperial past or the self-evident fact that it is gone.  Ready to slap the face of anyone who reminds them of either.  What could be more preposterous?

We’re in the running.

We had our own years of empire.  By virtue of geography we were the last country left standing at the end of World War II, so we put together the world afterward.  And we ran it.  And we got comfortable with the idea that was the only way the world could be.  God chose the United States of America to rule the world.  The Brits had the same idea.

Those were the good old days.  Not only did America rule the world, but American products reigned supreme.  And notions of common effort left from the war drove broad-based prosperity through measures like the GI Bill.

Things aren’t quite the same anymore.  The rest of the world grew up.  We can’t just order everyone else around, and our products don’t automatically win everywhere.  And we seem to have forgotten those notions of common effort, with sad consequences for the spread of wealth in the population.

Unfortunately, like Britain, we haven’t forgotten empire.  That’s what we have to get back to.  Rule the world.  Same population.  Blacks under control.  Winning everywhere.  Pot of gold for everyone.  God said so.

We have even more to lose than the Brits.

The United States is a prosperous country, in many respects the richest in the world.  We’ve messed up our social contract, but that’s ours to fix.  In the same way, there are no insurmountable problems in making worldwide growth good for everyone.  Even climate change, a monumental problem, has the technological basis for a solution.

We stand ready to sacrifice all of that to a fantasy of empire as vaporous as the British one.  It’s scary as hell that we seem ready to repeat history.  Their Brexit vote presaged Trump—what does the Boris Johnson vote say now?

Symbolism to the contrary, we have a better chance.  In Britain the vagaries of their electoral system prevented a legitimate revote on Brexit.  Regardless of who gets the Democratic nomination, we will get a chance a to vote on the future of the country and the planet.  History doesn’t repeat, people do.

But history will certainly judge.

Random Thoughts to Start the Year

31609900867_fcb1cc4c89_b

“Happy New Year” by nigelhowe is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

The True History of Trickle Down

As many have pointed out, it’s hard to understand how trickle-down economics continues to persist in the absence of any demonstrable success.  Money is of course an answer, but actually there’s a genealogy to it.

I recently came across a book that helped make the point.  It wasn’t an economics book, it was a novel—The Wooden Shepherdess by Richard Hughes.   Hughes was a comfortably upper-class Oxford graduate who spent much of his life in his castle in Wales.   The Wooden Shepherdess is a fictionalized account of the Prohibition era in the US and of England and Germany as Nazism was growing in the thirties.  Interesting times.

What’s most striking about the book, though, is its attitude toward class.  The author is perfectly clear about the grotesque inequality of the time and even sympathetic to the poor.  But he has an out:  that’s just the way it has to be.  It’s either this or chaos, so you’ve got to have this.  The speaking voice has no crisis of conscience, no concern about moral issues, no need to think much about it at all.  It just has to be.

At first that attitude seems strange—until you realize that trickle-down is only a repackaging of the same thing.  Sure there’s inequality, sure it’s growing, sure the minimum wage is ridiculous, sure 44% of the work force is in low-wage, dead-end jobs.  It all doesn’t matter. We need the Gods at the top, or it all collapses. It just has to be.

So in fact the trickle-down fraud has been going on for centuries.  It just has to be.  Only the pretext changes.  That’s all it is.

 

Policy Issues for Iran Apply Also to China

Paul Krugman had a well-expressed comment about how we as a country often misunderstand the effects of foreign policy.  As he put it, we frequently don’t want to acknowledge that “we’re not the only country whose citizens would rather pay a heavy price, in money and even in blood, than make what they see as humiliating concessions.”  His piece was largely about Iran, but the blindness is even greater for China.

After Trump declared he was going to destroy their economy and there was nothing they could do about it, their behavior got worse. It was not surprising that hard liners advocating complete self-sufficiency were proven right, and that intellectual property theft became a national imperative.  It’s precisely the blindness Krugman mentions to expect anything else.

Nonetheless, both the left-wing and the right-wing have signed onto the economic war with fervor.  The press doesn’t dare talk about anything else.  A weird aspect of it is that we seem to believe we’re defending the Chinese population against the totalitarian government—whereas the population has in fact reacted as Krugman described.  That’s one reason we’ve lost essentially all leverage on Hong Kong and the Uighurs.

We are correct in defending our interests with China, but the point here is that an economic war is a poor way to do it.  In actual results (IP theft and trade imbalance) we’re doing much worse than before Trump. What’s more, both countries need to be able to work together on areas of common interest—such as climate change, where things have gone badly backwards.  Our economic crusade is about as useful as the Medieval ones.

This isn’t a question of being nice.  We’re the ones getting hurt.

 

Squandering the Future

Now that Iraqis have decided they’ve had enough of the American presence, it’s a good time to look at the legacy of the Iraq war and other ways we’ve squandered our national wealth.  We’re not the first country to impoverish ourselves through war and other profligacy, but—by the silence of the press—we seem to be among the most thoroughly unaware.

In Iraq we fought a $3T war whose primary beneficiary was Iran.  The war was financed off-budget, without any real supervision of financial consequences.  Looking at the current state of the Middle East, it’s hard to see any US benefit but easy to find costs in bad will.  For the Iraqis it was an ongoing disaster from which they are still trying to recover.  For Iran it solidified, even institutionalized, their influence in Iraq.

Because of that war we ran huge deficits in good times.   That, combined with the later Republican “balanced budget” hypocrisy, has left the country in a persistent state of public-sector poverty.  Education and infrastructure funding are inadequate at all levels, and we just can’t come up with the money to fix it.  Nonetheless, after delivering both the war and the 2008 crash, George W. Bush has been rehabilitated to the point of canonization, and the Republican party has succeeded in removing all trace of his failures from public memory.

That’s convenient, because they went and did it again.  Trump’s tax cuts were a $1.5T ongoing present to businesses, who have chosen not to invest it in our future.  Instead they effectively passed it through to their rich investors via stock buybacks.  No investment in the businesses, and no money available for public infrastructure of any kind.  The money is gone.  And, as far as press coverage is concerned, without a trace.

That’s $4.5T in lost opportunities. It has consequences we see every day.  The American Society of Civil Engineers keeps a web site with a breakdown of national infrastructure requirements.   We currently rate a D+.  We’ve got parents desperate to get their kids in top private colleges, because we won’t support enough first-class public institutions.  And that’s not even talking about what’s necessary to combat climate change—which of course can’t be mentioned.

We don’t actually have a great economy.   We’re living on credit off the achievements of the past—with more than a little help from the hated immigrants.   We can talk about the evil Chinese all we want, but if we fall behind in that contest, it will be because we refuse to invest in the country and continue to give away our store.

Lessons From the British Election

55ddfb60723389.5a56f216db0a1

“Boris” by Raymond Wang is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

There is no way to avoid talking about the horrors of the British election.  With the confirmation of Brexit and the triumph of Boris Johnson, we have all stood witness to the disgraceful demise of a nation now left only with dreams of past glory.

For us though the important question is about what it means for our own election.  On that point the discussion has been generally limited to one question:  Does it say we should worry about the Democrats going too far to the left?  That one is hard to decide, since Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn was so unpopular for his own sake. 

However, that being said, there is still much to discuss.   We propose three points:

  1. Catastrophes not only can happen, but will happen if we don’t watch out for them.

The Democratic debates thus far have played out largely as conflict between the center and left wings of the party.  That means essentially all of it has been fought in the never-never land of post-Trump.  That’s not the same as working on viable strategies to win.

This will be a very tough election, fighting the Fox News, the Electoral College, incredible amounts of Republican money, and all the (legal and illegal) powers of incumbency.  Most candidates have done a reasonable job in providing position papers for what they stand for.  They need to tell us how they’re going to win.

  1. We need to recognize that the electorate isn’t convinced of the urgency of change.

In Britain, Corbyn’s big socialist revival was not so much wrong as a non sequitur.  What actually was all this trying to solve?  Why was it an argument for change?  It was ultimately a declaration of irrelevance.

We have a similar problem.  The very first question of the very first debate has never been adequately answered.  Elizabeth Warren was asked (more or less): “Why are you proposing all these changes when—by all polls—the vast majority of Americans think the economy is doing fine?”  That’s a question for all Democrats—what is it that’s so bad that we need change?

Warren’s answer—about radical inequality—was nowhere near strong enough.  It essentially said that all those people who answered the polls were just wrong.  But no one else has done better.  Healthcare was a great issue for the midterms—that’s something broken that we’re going to fix.  But it’s not enough to unseat Trump.  Impeachment doesn’t touch peoples’ lives directly—it’s about an abstraction called democracy.  Even climate change comes across as an abstraction, although it’s part of what’s needed.  Democrats need a short, clear reason for people to worry about their future with Trump.

That’s a bar to be passed before we can begin to get traction with specific plans for change.  Until then, like it or not, “fundamental structural change” will be a negative.

  1. We have to recognize this is a referendum on Trump

Corbyn pretended Brexit wasn’t the main issue and went off with his own program.  The public was unwilling to follow.

Regardless of how broadly we see the issues, this election is about where Trump is taking the country.

We need a well-defined Trump story to challenge Republican claims of a great rebirth of the American economy.  Even on trade they’ll do what worked for George Bush on Iraq—we’ve been through all the pain, don’t miss out on the rewards!

That means we need to show what four more years of Trump will actually mean.  And how to meet the real challenges for our future.  It seems helpful to think in terms of personal and national issues for the voters:

Personal well-being

Healthcare (complete failure of vision)

Decline in good jobs (manufacturing, good jobs in general)

Education (no initiatives, no funding)

Income inequality (all growth for the rich)

Guns (unsafe to be in school!)

Climate change (what world for our children?)

Women’s rights trampled (bodies owned by the government)

Worse life for everyone but the protected few

National well-being

Eroding technology dominance (science marginalized)

New businesses sacrificed to old (Net Neutrality)

Losing out with climate change denial (ceded primary position to China)

Weakness with China and North Korea (situation is worse than ever before)

Nuclear proliferation (a danger in all directions)

Racism and divisiveness undermine our strengths (just what Putin ordered)

Demise of democracy (our major source of prosperity and power)

=>  Welcome to the Chinese century

 

That’s where we’re going.  For our own dreams of past glory.

American Fascism in the World

43065391090_8a20d937be_b

“President Trump, MAGA rally, Wilkes-Barre, Penn – 1” by The Epoch Times is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As a country we normally don’t care much about foreign affairs.  We’ve had five Democratic debates with almost no questions about it.  International issues always come out low on the lists of what people care about.

However, the time has come to care.  It’s nothing new to identify the rise of fascism in this country as a problem.  But for some of the worst consequences you need to look outside the borders.

Fascism is many things but it is above all a world view.  The mother country is God-certified superior, under assault, and fully-equipped to teach everyone else a lesson.  That feels great; life is good when you’re on top of the world, and you don’t have to care.  But it is by definition blinding in its assessment of reality.

Our current foreign policy is predicated on the idea that we’re running things and can dictate to the rest of the world.   We don’t need allies or international institutions, because we can simply tell everyone else what to do.  Allies are people you shake down because they need you, and adversaries are just waiting to get defeated by irresistible national power.

That world view might have had some reality at the end of World War II (when we were sensible enough not to pursue it), but it has little to do with reality today.  The longer we resist reality, the worse for us.

First of all our military power is strictly bounded.  Nuclear weapons are such that for now no major power can be defeated.  We can’t even do anything about North Korea.  So we shouldn’t believe that counting bombs says anything meaningful.

Our economic power is also limited.  Our declared economic war on China has thus far been anything but “easy”.  There is no sign that China is ready to capitulate, and their resulting push for national self-sufficiency has many negatives for us—in particular reduced access to the markets we think we’re opening.  That’s in addition to an overall slow-down of international growth and much of the recent intellectual property theft.  The blindness of the belief in our power is such that we systematically ignore consequences.  It is truly dangerous to believe—as a principle—that we don’t have to care.

Why do we have allies?  If you believe what’s coming out of Washington, the answer is that we have allies because, out of the goodness of our hearts, we choose to defend our friends.  Since this is pure beneficence, they had better pay up and to hell with them if they don’t.

In fact (of course) we have allies is to increase our strength.  NATO came into existence, so that a next world war with Russia would be fought in Europe and not here. That role may have diminished, but it’s not gone, and Europe allies are also assets in dealing with middle-eastern terrorism and with the economic strength of China.  South Korea and Japan are similarly counterweights to the rising power of China.   Again, they are the ones on the front lines.  Shaking them down increases China’s dominance in the East.

Why do we have international institutions?  Those were created by the US as a means of increasing stability (to the benefit of our economy) and of exercising power.  The UN is imperfect institution, but its role as an international forum is essential.  The WTO is the best means that exists to push for labor and environmental standards in international trade.  Make no mistake that world trade has been good for the US economy.  If it hasn’t done as much for the population as a whole, that’s because—as in many other areas—rich donors have controlled our own objectives.  That’s our problem to fix.  International institutions are the way we, together with our allies, can exert decisive power without conflict.

Fascism is a major impediment to the exercise of US power.  Nothing says that negotiation with China is easy (as noted elsewhere), but we certainly should be playing with a full deck.  As it is, we’ve already strengthened the hands of hard-liners, and it will be work to walk that back.  That’s still worth the effort, because conflict is a good option only in fascist fantasy.  A defined “victory” is highly unlikely, and at the very least we’re talking about:  a new cold war, lower economic growth, no access to the Chinese market, an uncontrolled and expensive arms race, no leverage on Chinese behavior, a real chance of war.  Rational national interest says forget the fascist dreams, strengthen our hand, and work on a real future.

There’s another aspect to this too.  Fascism has many other destructive tendencies, and we’re promoting them worldwide.  Racial intolerance is built-in to the world view.  We’re excusing it domestically and normalizing it elsewhere.  Modi’s anti-Muslim policies would probably have happened anyway, but our influence has damped down international outrage.  We may decry China’s treatment of Uighurs, but our outrage is inconsistent with our own actions.  Even more important, our fascist disdain for international cooperation has seriously hobbled the worldwide effort to combat climate change.  The US-led unanimity of the Paris Agreement was the basis for the world to make progress.  Once we broke that and encouraged others to follow, it has been more than difficult to assemble the global good-will necessary to make progress.

After World War II it was easy to believe fascism was something special with roots in German or Italian culture.  We now know better.  It is a tendency than needs to be fought everywhere.  It is a mindset that takes over from rationality and hurts most severely those who fall prey to the disease.

We’ve had more than enough of it already.  For our own sake we’d better learn to fight back.

Waiting is Losing in China and North Korea

Foreign policy these days has been drifting along.  Negotiations with China have gone up and down for many months.  Nothing is happening with North Korea.  (Kim has given some kind of threat for the end of the year, and we’re wondering if we care.)   It’s easy to assume all is sort of okay while we’re working on it.

That’s false.  With trade wars as with other wars, if you’re not winning you’re losing.  That’s true in spades today.

Let’s start with China.

As we (and Nancy Pelosi) have pointed out for some time, we began the trade war by giving up a good chunk of our leverage.  We and the EU each represent 18% of Chinese exports, so we gave up half the leverage for a Trump-style exclusive deal.

That was bad enough.  What’s worse is that the leverage goes down every day.  That involves both Chinese imports from the US and Chinese exports overall.

On the import side, China has been forced by the trade war to develop new sources for strategic products, since the US can no longer be considered a reliable supplier.  The last Huawei phone, for example, has replaced all US components.  Additionally, China has developed alternate sources for products that it restricted in retaliation for the US tariffs.   It’s now sourcing soybeans from Brazil and Argentina, relationships that are expected to survive any US trade agreement with China.  In other words our leverage as a strategic supplier to China is decreasing dramatically.  What’s more, this gives a pessimistic picture of what is to be expected of US exports to China even after a deal!

For Chinese exports, there’s no question that the Chinese economy took a hit from the  US tariffs.  However they have looked to beef up exports elsewhere and also to stimulate their own domestic market.  After the initial hit their balance of payments has shown resilience:

china_balance

Another round of US tariffs would hurt again (at the expense to us of a very visible and regressive tariff tax), but there is no sign that the Chinese are going away.  As they continue to work on replacing the US market, time is on their side.

With North Korea, even with the continued sanctions, production of nuclear weapons and missiles is continuing unabated.  The threat posed to the US by those weapons should not be taken lightly.  The destructive power of nuclear weapons is such that only a few are necessary to assure victory.  Japan was defeated by two, small-grade weapons and a faked threat of more.  In theory a successful cyber attack combined with a nuclear threat could defeat anyone.  North Korea is a world leader in cyber attacks.

What’s more, the strategic value of those weapons is going up all the time.  As we threaten to withdraw support from Japan and South Korea, the regional status of North Korea grows.  Do we really think Kim will give it all up?  (And can we deny that other countries will want to follow his example?)   It’s not what Kim might or might not announce in December that’s the issue, it’s what has been going on all along—while he’s been Trump’s buddy.

So in neither case are we working quietly toward a solution.  We’re just plain losing.

Depression:  Yes or No

Donald Trump inherited a country on the upswing.  Unemployment was low and decreasing, and GDP was growing at a healthy clip.  The following charts show remarkable continuity.

unemployment_ratedomestic_product_growth

However we’ve let that continuity hide a more sinister reality.  The $1.5 T tax cuts represented a huge transfer of the wealth of the country to the rich investors of Wall Street.  The money did not go to wages (which have only barely kept pace with inflation), nor to business investment (no significant rise), nor to bonuses (negligible one-shot deals).  It went to artificially-enhanced corporate earnings that turned into stock buy-backs.  A double win for Wall Street.

There are a lot of things that could have been done with that money, but now that it has gone into stock prices, it’s not coming back.   In fact, chances are that it’s gone for good.

1929 was a long time ago, so the world has had plenty of time to think about it.  A major factor in the crash was that inequality had risen to the point where it undermined continued growth.   Speculation pushed stock values to a point that was not sustainable by the buying power of the population.  Furthermore, the Depression was caused not just by the crash, but by mismanagement of the economy by the business-fixated Republicans in power.

Let’s tick off the items.  We have inequality that has now reached levels unheard-of since the roaring twenties.  We don’t have wild speculation on Wall Street, but we do have stocks pumped up to artificially high levels by the dual effects of enhanced earnings and corporate stock buy-backs.  Trump is still working on schemes to push Wall Street higher.

Two questions:

  • Is it sustainable?

As corporate profits move back down to reality, it seems pretty clear that once again domestic buying power isn’t going to do the job.  Foreign markets might have offered some hope, but there the trade wars get in the way.  That’s why the market has gone up and down with rumors of a China deal.  However, much damage there has already been done.  Trump wants another tax cut before the election—an admission of where we are.  So the answer to the question is simply “No”.

It’s a matter of time until all that money that pumped up the stock market is gone.  Poof.

  • What’s going to happen?

It’s hard to predict what’s going to pop the bubble.  In 1929, reality just set in.  That may be the case today, but there are plenty of other possibilities:  wars (particularly in the Middle East), climate catastrophes, unanticipated tariff effects, debt crises elsewhere.  Election of a Democrat won’t do it (no matter how many times Trump says so), because the problem is beyond party.  No one, Republican or Democrat, can keep pumping debt-funded artificial profits into the stock market forever.

It’s what happens next that matters.  Democrats understand the importance of stopping contraction by supporting the population.  That’s what kept us all out of depression in 2008.  Republicans didn’t understand that in 1929 and hadn’t learned the lesson in 2008.  Trump himself has done everything possible to weaken safety nets for the benefit of Wall Street.  He’ll do everything he can to protect businesses from the “losers”.

So the 2020 election is simple.  Depression:  YES or NO?

On Climate—We Have to Beat Trump or Nothing Else Matters

Our piece on Inslee’s climate proposals included a video clip from MIT professor Henry Jacoby on the international side of climate change.  That clip deserves more than a passing reference, because its implications go far.  In its own way this is truth-telling for a story that has been largely ignored

 

Just to repeat the obvious, there is only one atmosphere.  All the carbon dioxide from everyone gets mixed up.  Since we represent about 15% of the world CO2 production, we only control 15% of what happens to us.  We can feel good or bad about how well we’re doing with our 15%, but the other 85% comes from everyone else.

For that other 85% it should be emphasized that there is no world government to deal with it.  The only way to make progress is for all of the world’s nations to unite on a process that makes sense, on a national basis, for each country involved.  That was the achievement of the Paris Agreement—there is no other mechanism for going forward.  (We’ve talked elsewhere about justice and economic impact.)  US withdrawal means we will be stuck with consequences of that other 85%, regardless of what we as individuals or cities or states can do.  Let’s see what that means.

US involvement created the Paris Agreement after decades of international squabbling.  Obama’s active intervention also raised Chinese consciousness to stop their rapid increase in CO2 production—as seen in the following chart:

s11_2018_Projections

The Paris Agreement is not a single step, but a process.  The path to success involves regular revisions of national targets according to a succession of 5-yearly updates.  The next such update is in 2020.

Progress won’t happen by itself.  It only works if everyone keeps on-track—and US withdrawal undermines it all.   Now that we’re out, the Germans and the Japanese are replacing nuclear plants with coal, and the Chinese (while retreating from fossil fuels in their own country) are pushing coal and oil elsewhere with their Belt and Road initiative.  With the US committed to (and encouraging) cheating, the 2020 updates are in jeopardy, and there is a real question if the poor countries of the world will be in any position to deal with the 75% of CO2 emissions reductions that Professor Jacoby notes must come from the developing world.  Rich countries like us are only going escape the consequences of climate change if they can get back in the game to make progress with poorer ones.

As long as Trump is the US President, we are giving up on what happens with most of the sources of the CO2 in our atmosphere.  That means, regardless of what we do for ourselves, we are committed to a national disaster.

So it’s important to keep things in perspective.  It’s good for the US to commit the effort necessary to meet our climate objectives.   But we should not delude ourselves about what controls our destiny.  The highest priority for climate action is to defeat Trump.  Between now and the election there is no other climate priority that comes close.